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Businesses must look beyond salaries to attract and retain talent, summit hears

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Business Practices | Collision Repair
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Businesses can no longer rely on competitive salaries alone to recruit and retain talent, a talent acquisition and retention leader said during a recent International Bodyshop Industry Symposium Worldwide (IBIS) conference.

Speaking to IBIS Global Summit attendees in Italy last week, author and talent consultant James Crawley presented on the importance of creating a strong employer brand to hire and retain employees.

“Your industry — like any industry that requires a talented workforce — faces exactly the same people challenges,” Crawley said. “Everyone struggles to attract and retain talent, and that’s where employer brand comes in.

“I don’t care how good your product is. I don’t care how good your technology is. I don’t care how good your marketing is. What businesses sometimes forget is that while 100% of their customers are people, 100% of their employees are people as well and if you don’t understand your people, you don’t understand your business.”

Crawley said a number of elements are crucial to building employee loyalty and that while pay is a factor, it doesn’t trump others including ethics, social responsibility, learning and development and a company’s products.

“Money only buys time, not loyalty,” he said, “A company that competes for talent on a cash basis is vulnerable to the next big offer. This day of escalating salaries is like an arms race. It’s expensive and ultimately difficult, if not impossible, to win.”

Crawley went on to say that employees are more interested in working for a business that facilitates professional growth and stability while making them feel as though they’re having an impact both on their employee and society.

He gave an example of three people digging the same hole. When asked what they were doing, one said they were digging a hole, another said they were building a foundation and the third said they were building a cathedral.

“Which of those three people doing the same job has got an engaged purpose? It directly impacts your growth, your stability, your products, and therefore your customers,” Crawley said, adding that purpose matters.

Good communicators

Crawley said one top pillar of facilitating employee engagement is through open and frequent dialogue. He said that can’t be accomplished through annual staff surveys, which he called “a complete waste of time,” but instead by annual reviews and group meetings.

“If you’re not taking the pulse of your organization with the team that is delivering your product on a monthly or worst-case scenario quarterly basis, then you might as well not bother,” he said.

He said appraisals should be conducted not just to provide employees with feedback on performance, but also to provide them with an opportunity to give input on how things could be done better.

Businesses should also have regular engagement meetings so that employees from various departments can come together and provide feedback, celebrate the wins and openly discuss challenges they’re facing, he added.

“That honesty will promote real trust and loyalty,” he said. “And you’ll get repaid with a willingness to [work] attitude amongst your team.”

When an employee does resign, he said managers should always conduct an exit interview and gain insights that can help them identify more strategic issues within the business that can be addressed.

Crawley said that when an employee leaves for a genuinely better opportunity, they should be celebrated during their sendoff rather than begrudged.

“Remember that old saying, ‘What goes around comes around?’ Who knows where that person will be in two- or three-years’ time,” he said. “Maybe with a new skill they’ll return to you. Or if not, maybe they’ll [recommend] you to their connections because they remember how well they were treated in your business.”

Recruiting tips

Crawley said retention at a business begins with retention, and that companies that have managed to attract and retain staff have done so, partially, through progressive, responsive and dynamic recruiting strategies.

He said HR professionals are “generally not the best recruiters,” and that a better approach is to find new talent through existing employees who are likely already connected to others in the industry.

Crawley also said that rather than investing in customer service, businesses should invest in their teams.

“They will be happier and more motivated,” he said. “A happier, more motivated team will automatically go the extra mile to serve your customers. Therefore, your customers will be happy and won’t require customer service.”


Featured image credit: coldsnowstorm/iStock

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